Dear Dot: What Can I Do With My Old Piano?

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Dear Dot,

I’m moving and downsizing. It seems I can’t even give away my family’s 1880s square piano. No one I’ve contacted even wants it to repurpose the exquisite wood. I contacted Big Reuse and they said thanks, but we’ll pass. Somewhere there must be a fine woodworker who would be thrilled to have it. HELP!

–Ann, Brooklyn, NY

Dear Ann,

A bit more than a decade ago, a downsizing friend gave me a gorgeous antique piano, insisting that it just needed tuning. At that point, Eldest Daughter had been playing on a cruddy upright that was a half-key out of tune (our tuner said that was as good as he could get it) but, even with that handicap, her piano teacher considered her a gifted student. An antique piano that looked fabulous and just needed tuning? Bring it on — errr, in.

I once again enlisted our tuner. His assessment? ‘No way, nope, ain't gonna happen.’ The piano wires were so brittle that if he adjusted them at all, they would break. Nothing could be done. I had adopted a lovely but useless piano.

So, I did what you did. Posted everywhere “Piano Free to a Good Home.” I thought perhaps a church might want it for its basement Sunday school — surely an out-of-tune piano is preferable to no piano? No takers. I posted again, fingers crossed. No way, nope, ain't gonna happen. 

Ultimately, because the wood was, like yours, exquisite, I carefully disassembled it myself and, to this day, have beautiful pieces of wood in my basement that I hope to one day repurpose into a mantle, or the back of a bench, or … who knows? The rest of the piano went to the dump, along with my spirits. 

I wish then that I’d had access to Bluedot’s Guide to Getting Rid of (Almost) Anything, specifically our recommendation for rehoming (or junking) a piano. I consulted it on your behalf, Ann, and came across a Piano Adoption site (sounds promising, yes?). The way it works is this: You post information about your free usable piano and those seeking a free usable piano contact you. It’s like Tinder for ivory ticklers.

If, like my piano, yours is junk, the piano adoption site has this to say: 

“If my piano is ‘junk’, what should I do with it?” 

“First determine if it might be appropriate for a piano restorer or a beginning technician who needs a piano on which to practice repairs. If not, and it really needs to be discarded, then call piano movers or contractors who clean out basements, attics, and the like, and get estimates of how much it would cost to remove the piano and take it to the dump or landfill. Note that in addition to the cost of hauling the piano away, the landfill may also charge a fee based on weight or volume.” 

Unfortunately, nowhere does the site link you to a woodworker who might salvage parts of your piano. I wish I had better options for you, Ann. I hope you are able to find either a good home for your intact piano or a good home for various pieces of your piano. If you do hit on a great solution, please let Dot know so I can update our guide and alert readers.

Tunefully,

Dot

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